The ruling Fatah movement is seriously considering a move to delay Palestinian legislative elections, which is scheduled for mid-July, over fears of a solid defeat at the hands of the Islamic movement (Hamas).

A source, close to Fatah, said on Thursday that many Fatah leaders are convinced that the movement needs more time to unify lines and raise its popularity among Palestinians.

During the past week, Fatah came back strong in elections for students’ councils at both Bir Zeit and Bethlehem universities. The election results encouraged movement leaders to seek more time to prepare for legislative elections.

Fatah became increasingly concerned following the second round of Palestinian local elections, where Hamas came real strong in most of the 26 elected councils. Also, recent public opinion polls are indicating an increased Hamas popularity.

Frustrated by the continued power struggle inside the ruling movement, lack of progress in promised reforms, and the stalled diplomatic efforts, a growing number of Palestinians are apparently welling to provide the Islamic movement with more political strength.

Fatah leader are more convinced that as there are no breakthroughs in talks with Israel, and as the reforming process is proven to be much harder than expected, running early parliamentary elections would be playing to the hands of Hamas. 

Fatah leaders hope that by delaying the elections, the movement will be able to make better preparations ahead of the ballot.

According to sources close to Fatah, the movement is currently discussing how to achieve public support for such a move and at the same time avoid a full-frontal clash with Hamas over the issue.

Hamas has recently warned the Palestinian Authority against delaying local and legislative elections, demanding an official confirmation of announced dates.

Israeli media sources reported that the issue of delaying PA legislative elections was discussed in the last meeting between PA Minister for Civil Affairs Mohammed Dahlan and Israeli Communications Minister Dalia Itzik.